US Navy to Begin Plane Search in Indian Ocean

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Kidd is now in the waters west of Malaysia and is expected to soon begin searching in the Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian airliner.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters today that the USS Kidd had arrived in the "western search area" west of the Malaysian Peninsula after shifting away from the Gulf of Thailand.

The ship's current position puts it in the northwest portion of the Strait of Malacca, the vital waterway that divides the Malaysian peninsula from the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Warren said the ship has not received its final tasking order from the Malaysian government, but "we believe it will be searching in the Andaman Sea into the Bay of Bengal." Both bodies of water are part of the larger Indian Ocean.

The USS Pinckney, the other destroyer that had been searching in the Gulf of Thailand, is now in Singapore for scheduled repairs.

The U.S. Seventh Fleet said today that the P-3C Orion aircraft had flown a search mission that took it into the Indian Ocean. The aircraft went from the northwest section of the Strait of Malacca and flew about 1,000 miles west with nothing significant to report.

Used for anti-submarine warfare, the plane has long-range cameras and sensors that provide imagery that is analyzed in real time by analysts flying aboard the aircraft.

Warren also said that a P-8 Poseidon plane will soon be joining the U.S. Navy's participation in the relief efforts. He said the jet aircraft will be flying missions over the southern portion of the Bay of Bengal and northern part of the Indian Ocean.

Search efforts for the missing airliner continue in both the Gulf of Thailand and the waters west of the Malaysian Peninsula, though interest is focusing on the Indian Ocean after radar data indicated the plane had headed in that direction.

Malaysian government officials Thursday said a multinational effort of 43 ships and 40 aircraft were participating in the search for Malaysian Airlines flight 370. Twenty-six ships and 25 aircraft were searching in the South China Sea and 17 ships and 15 aircraft in the Straits of Malacca.

Imagery from U.S. commercial and national security satellites is also being analyzed in the search for the missing airliner.

Defense officials confirm that satellites that look for the heat signatures of rocket launches around the world did not pick up anything resembling a midair explosion over the Gulf of Thailand.

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